Sunday, December 22, 2013

On the Road: Humans Need Humans

This happens to our students every day, not just during the holidays. Students need human support as much or more than academic support. Imagine what we could accomplish if every student we taught had a human support system!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

HOT TIPS: Holiday Buying Advice

Whether a learner or a teacher in the world of e-learning (and ideally, aren't we all BOTH?), there's a great chance that technology is on either your wishlist or the list of someone you love. But how to make the best decisions? It's overwhelming even for the veteran e-geek to determine that all available options are being considered and only the best possible choice made from a global technology market!

Where to turn? CNET. This site has provided the best in technology reviews for years. It's where I always start and where I always end up on those tough investment decisions.

What's on your list this year?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Newbies' Guide to Computer Symbols

THIS FABULOUS EDUDEMIC GUIDE to common computer icons/symbols is most helpful! And not just for newbies! I will link this in our resource sections for easy reference later as well.
(Viewing note: When you click on the link, the graphic will likely be too small to read the type. Your cursor will be a magnifying glass that will allow you to enlarge it and then you can scroll through the Web window to study it! The same cursor will SHRINK the graphic if it is already ENLARGED.)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sir Ken Robinson: How to Escape Education's Death Valley

Let's Play Jeopardy!

I found this great free Jeopardy simulator that allows you to enter your own questions/answers and play this game with your students! It was a breeze to build one, too!

It could be used in a class discussion/review as well as for individuals doing self-assessment in an online environment.

What fun!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Wicked Cool App Alert!

Anyone who uses BOTH Google Drive AND Microsoft Office to create and manage documents knows the hassle of trying to made edits to an Office document on your mobile devices.

Enter Quickoffice, a free app from Google that allows you to access your Google Drive account and EDIT the Microsoft Office documents contained therein. Yes, really!

It works beautifully and my life just got a whole lot better. Big thanks to Dr. Brian Leonard for the technology tip of the week!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Blackboard accepting submissions!

Everyone familiar with Blackboard's Exemplary Course program? In addition to acknowledging and highlighting best practice in e-learning within the Blackboard community, the gallery is a great hunting ground for tips and ideas for our own course designs. I often send faculty there to peruse and browse the best of what other course developers have created so that they have a better sense of their goal.

The Exemplary Course program is now accepting submissions for 2014! Each entry is developed via a video tour of the course and a fairly extensive application for inclusion. I participated last year as a volunteer course evaluator for the program and learned so much about what Blackboard can do, in addition to getting some great e-learning ideas relevant to any LMS (Learning Management System)!

Do you have an amazing course built in Blackboard? Enter today!

Friday, November 1, 2013

MERLOT II Unveiled!

If you haven't heard of or visited MERLOT, you're missing out! It's arguably the best quality learning object repository (LOR) out there, as its contents are all peer-reviewed by traditionally accepted academic standards. And those learning objects are searchable by keyword and licensed for use in teaching and learning at no cost! The site has blossomed over time to provide a social network for e-learning professionals as well as a host of resources and services related to e-learning.

Join the MERLOT community to expand your knowledge of and access to no-cost, high-quality resources for your learners!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Video: I Will Not Let an Exam Result Decide My Fate

Don't forget that you can go "full screen" by clicking the four-cornered box in the lower right corner of the video screen! Just type the ESC key to return to the normal blog view.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

State Authorization Update

We attended a statewide meeting in Montgomery, Alabama last week to discuss the state authorization issue and its latest implications for those serving online education on postsecondary levels.

For those new to the term "state authorization," this simply means the seeking and granting of permission for colleges and universities to "do business" outside of their states' boundaries. In order for us to teach online students outside of the state in which we operate, we must have permission (via a license or exemption, depending on the state) to serve the residents of each particular state represented by our students. If want to teach students in New York, we must have New York's permission to do so, either with a license or an exemption to the license.

That said, the issue very quickly gets complicated (and expensive!) as we navigate the unique and discrete requirements of each of the other forty-nine states in which we want to enroll students. The processes and costs are to be renewed at the end of each license period, which also varies by state. In the state of Alabama, as an example, an institution can expect to spend between $2,500 and $15,000 every two years to maintain license to teach Alabamians online.

In fact, the issue is so complicated that the legal mandate is yet to be set in stone. Courts have been knocking the issue around for a few years, and we do our best to keep up. In that spirit, I have added a "State Authorization" section to this blog (see navigation bar on RIGHT of screen) and will continue to add key links there that will help anyone who wants to learn more or keep a close eye on the state authorization issue as it evolves.

For the time being and for any players new to the game, I recommend a review of the history (beginning with links I've provided before generalized Web searching) and current state of the issue as well as the beginning (or continuation) of good faith efforts at compliance.

While reciprocity agreements are being negotiated and developed, state-to-state licensure is going to continue to be an issue that will require some level of documentation and investment, whether to individual states or to a collective representing an coalition of states. In either case, it's best that the relevant discussions and the consideration of processes, stakeholders and outcomes begin as soon as possible, if indeed they have not already begun.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Faculty Organizations Take on MOOCs

This article published by Campus Technology illustrates a growing anti-MOOC sentiment among faculty across public higher education. While on the one hand, there is legitimate concern for the privatization and the quality of online programs, aiming the 'quality control' issue at MOOCs as a movement—and online learning in general—seems disingenuous to me.

I don't believe it's appropriate here to throw the baby out with the bathwater with wholesale condemnation of the MOOC movement and online learning in general. While I understand the threats that the open education movement represents to public higher education in general, I believe there is great potential for the revitalization of public higher education to be realized through the thoughtful integration of open educational resources—especially MOOCs and their wide-scale accessibility—into the teaching and learning we do at public colleges and universities.

Fighting against online education and MOOCs will not serve these faculty opponents well in the long run, I predict. As long as we view public higher education and the MOOC movement as mutually exclusive, someone has to win and someone has to lose. Neither holds enough cards to claim a winning hand since traditional education has become so expensive and out of reach for so many, and in many public higher ed environments, technological integration is woefully absent. On the other hand, what MOOCs offer in affordability and accessibility cannot compensate for the limited human interaction they offer. So what's a learner to do? If I were shopping for a degree, I would choose an environment where my traditional human faculty have chosen to embrace technology and open access education, and where I would have access to the best of both worlds. The universities and faculty who make that choice for integration of traditional and online/technology-based learning will reap the greatest rewards in terms of enrollment, retention and learning outcomes. And then we have to consider our charge for preparing our learners for the real-world workforce that awaits them.

Although the private e-learning sector arguably has questionably high influence in the movement, I don't believe that privatization is really the core issue in this debate. Before we decide who else to invite to the table, we have to first decide if we ourselves are going to accept the invitation to step into the exhilarating-albeit-sometimes-scary world of new millennial e-learning and MOOCs.

The water is rising, though. And I really don't think there's going to be any option for going back.

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Power Through Series returns!

The Power Through Series for e-course developers is back and ready for your registration! We'll be meeting weekly on Thursday afternoons from 2:00–4:00 pm (with open lab from 4:00–5:00 pm for anyone who needs extra help) from October 3 through November 21.

Won't you join us? Check out the agenda and register to attend here!

We'll be adding several more trainings to our schedule over the next day or two, but I wanted to get the word out about this series immediately! SPACE IS LIMITED so sign up now!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

There have been days and days filled with busy-ness! I'll return next week! Thanks for your patience!

A quote for the duration:
Leaders are not, as we are often led to think, people who go along with huge crowds following them. Leaders are people who go their own way without caring, or even looking to see, whether anyone is following them. "Leadership qualities" are not the qualities that enable people to attract followers, but those that enable them to do without them. They include, at the very least, courage, endurance, patience, humor, flexibility, resourcefulness, stubbornness, a keen sense of reality, and the ability to keep a cool and clear head, even when things are going badly. True leaders, in short, do not make people into followers, but into other leaders.” 
John Holt, Teach Your Own

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Six Types of Assessments (And How They're Changing!)

Want a three-to-five minute crash course in assessment models? This infographic is just for you! I'm a big fan of formative assessment. I know there are lots of controversies surrounding the legitimacy and execution of other types of assessment such as the criterion-based and norm-referenced models. I suspect the ideal lies somewhere in the dynamic hybrid that meets the needs of various learning communities but I also suspect that formative assessment plays a prominent role in any learner-centered process. The key word to remember about formative assessment is "feedback"—and lots of it. Continuous feedback has a double-edged benefit in that it helps assess both the learner's learning and the teacher's teaching, if that teacher is so tuned to read and hear feedback to their feedback. The ideal is a continuous feedback loop. With a steady, continuous communication with learners, we learn to adapt to and overcome individual obstacles to learning as well as modeling to learners how to overcome those obstacles by and for themselves.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Desktop Documentaries: Value in Learning and Assessment?

I'm pretty impressed with this Desktop Documentaries site! I have always had a keen interest in producing documentaries and I have a summer at Duke University's documentary filmmaking school on my to-do list. The topics that I'd like to explore and relate via documentary are all topics in which I hold great passion and interest, of course. The topics themselves drive my interest in documentary production, and the technical process of producing a film is of secondary interest. Development of the technical skills and resources required to communicate information and ideas on a chosen topic in a multimedia documentary would be a great bonus outcome for a learner enrolled in any field of curriculum!

What if we used learner-driven desktop documentary production in the classroom (online or brick-and-mortar) for both learning and assessment? While it would be admittedly difficult to manage a high-quality production of any significant depth or length in the scope of a one-semester course, full documentary production provides a great opportunity for a culminating experience, which typically spans multiple semesters (in secondary and higher educational environments) and can be approached as a team effort. I'm especially fond of any type of learning or assessment that stresses collaborative teamwork skills as opposed to merely competitive learning models. Learning communities form around a shared goal or project, and documentary making can be done completely virtually from a variety of source points around the world by using widely available free technologies and tools.

And for those courses which begin and end in a single semester, mini-documentaries of 3-5 minute duration and a more ad hoc production quality (smartphones, tablets, laptops) are ideal for the learning experience measured in weeks rather than years. Public service announcements, mini-documentaries, sound bites or video blogs/memes produced with educational intent provide real-world context to the learning experience and leave the learner with a tangible outcome perfect for an e-portfolio!

I am adding a documentary section to this blog. I will be adding resources as I find them, so please feel free to share yours with us!

What might your learners gain from creating video documentaries? And what might we gain from them?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

What If We Flipped ONLINE Learning?

Most of us have heard about flipping the traditional classroom: learners review lecture and do their reading before they come to class! Then homework and projects are completed in the presence of the instructor and peers in the classroom setting, making collaboration and team learning much easier and providing over-the-shoulder instructor support at arguably the most critical phase in the learning process (application of knowledge to assignments, problem-solving and projects, for instance).

But flipping an ONLINE class? How might that work? HERE is a very brief narrative and a fascinating infographic to explain it! 

C. Chase: How Love & Self-Direction Leads to Mastery

I believe this is true for all levels of learning, at all ages!
How does a child become highly skilled at painting, singing, dancing or drawing, without significant input from teachers? One thing my son Andy and I learned early on was the importance of imitating the skillful work of others and falling in love with the creative process. 
This is a drawing that Andy did when he was about 8 years old. He loves to draw, and has been doing it on his own, since he was three. Like Andy I drew for enjoyment several hours a day, since about the same age. No teachers, no art courses, just pencils, paper, free time and encouragement from parents to draw whatever we liked.

For both of us the mastery process was completely self-directed. Andy would spend hours with his favorite dinosaur books, copying the pictures, then making little action scenes or story books. At his age, I would trace and imitate my favorite cartoons, then return to drawing in my own style, creating similar kinds of pictures.

What I remember noticing fairly early on was that every time I traced or imitated a drawing beyond my present level of ability my skills improved. I observed the same thing with my son's drawing ability. I never told him how or what to draw, just encouraged him to copy the pictures he liked.

What we both learned is that a more advanced artist doesn't need to physically be there in the same room to be your teacher. Careful observation, patience, practice and imitation of their work is all that is needed. As skills improve, and you've learned from many different artists, one begins to develop their own unique style.
In reading about how other artists developed their skills it appears that many discovered the same process. Bob Dylan listen to folk music endlessly, and imitated his favorite musicians. Van Gogh began by copying paintings by others, most great writers were usually first voracious readers. 
Countless hours of practice and engagement seems to be the key to mastering what one loves. In my case, I would draw for about 2 hours every day from age three. Andy did that as well. That's 60 hours a month, over 700 hours a year. By the time he and I were 5 or 6 years old many saw us as "born artists." But few realized how much practice time we were putting into it. 
Think about whatever it is you do extremely well. Were you born with those skills or did you practice and enjoy doing what you love for countless hours? Think about great violin players, singers, dancers, athletes, scientists. No one was born with such skills, they all required an incredible amount of time and practice. Without endless hours of engagement, mastery never happens. 
The point that I feel is important here is that no one knows what a child can or cannot do, if they don't enjoy an activity and haven't put all those hours into it.

Love and enjoyment are an essential part of the learning equation, they are absolutely crucial for high levels of skill and mastery. This may be what Mozart was trying to tell us when he said, “Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.
Christopher Chase

Monday, July 8, 2013

A MOOC Adrift?

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports today in "A University's Offer of Credit for a MOOC Gets No Takers" that the Colorado State University's Global Campus offered a singular MOOC-for-credit in the subject area of computer science last fall at a dramatically discounted rate ($89 proctor fee, as opposed to $1,050 for a three-credit hour course tuition rate) and they are mystified as to why no one registered for the course!

Some might be tempted to sound the alarms and declare MOOCs dead even before they've had a chance to integrate themselves into mainstream education. But not so fast!

As the article fairly states,
The offer applied to only a single MOOC, in computer science, and the credits might be useful only to students who intended to finish their degrees at Global Campus.
Why would learners sign up for a singular MOOC if they are already midstream with a degree and a course credit system that they can count on? If the credit for the MOOC can't/won't transfer to another institution and students are already set in a degree-seeking academic structure (even in an online context), what's the appeal to that specific set of learners? Is this the right audience of learners for us to view as a litmus for an entire movement? MOOCs-for-credit have the potential to dissolve the walls that limit access to higher education to an entirely new demographic of learners, and yet we're testing their viability in the context of online degree programs without offering an entire degree in the MOOC-for-credit format.

There are other clues about the slow take-off of MOOCs-for-credit as cited by the director of LearningCounts, who shares her disappointment with the lack of interest shown by learners in their program. "The council has not yet advertised its services directly to MOOC students," noted Chari Leader Kelley. With no marketing to the most likely learners, why are expectations set so high?

Is it possible that we're still holding the reins a little too tightly? The market for MOOC learning is there, but its needs must be more comprehensively assessed and addressed if we expect the movement to take off as quickly as many hope. It's possible that our water-testing is TOO tentative if we are watching a singular MOOC-for-credit from one university for guidance on how to direct an entire movement with many complex layers of logistical and operational considerations for both learners and institutions. The context of the MOOC experience doesn't seem to be taken into consideration if we are expecting more traditional learners already enrolled in degree programs to take the lead with MOOCs-for-credit with a singular course in their existing environment. What if those MOOCs were marketed to institutions, departments or faculty, rather than the learners? What if transfer credit agreements were made between MOOC providers and traditional universities for the provision of online content to the universities' learners able to customize their educational experiences with a global course catalog from which to choose? What if faculty at traditional universities integrated MOOCs into course curricula both online and in the classroom? The traditional university can provide the learner the facilitated, SME-driven curatorial educational experience by providing personal faculty support to learners as needed and faculty are freed up to teach online as well as in the classroom with academic technology tools otherwise likely not affordable or otherwise within their reach.
However, when it comes to granting credit to students who take a free-floating MOOC instead of a tuition-based course at a traditional university, institutions remain largely in control of what courses they will abide and how many credits they will allow students to transfer in from such sources.
The American Council on Education, which advises college presidents on policy, has evaluated eight MOOCs—four from Coursera and four from Udacity—and recommended to its members that students who pass those courses should be awarded transfer credits. It remains to be seen how many of those colleges will take the council's advice.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ten Years of Tracking Online Education: Free Report Download

The Sloan Consortium is generously making available for free download its 2012 report Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education. Rather than add to your extensive reading, I will merely point you toward the download and a nice summary of the key findings. But—this was my favorite!
Seventy-seven percent of academic leaders rate the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those in face-to-face.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Has the Digital Divide closed?

In the mid-1990s, when the public Internet was young, a large group of social activists realized the positive potential that access to the Web would afford any individual, group or community and they observed huge pockets of our national population who did not have access to all the goodness the Internet had to offer those who could afford expensive hardware, software and access. The term "Digital Divide" was coined to represent the wide chasm of opportunity between the "haves" and the "have-nots" in terms of access to the Internet. For a time, attention to the matter grew and there was a lot more attention in the media given to efforts by individuals and organizations to close that divide.

The unfortunate side of falling hardware prices and more widespread (but still less than ubiquitous) access is that the Digital Divide seems to be falling off our collective radar. Many think the Digital Divide no longer exists, but one need only take a deeper look at the lives and educational experiences of geographically and socioeconomically isolated pockets of our population to see that the divide is still there, still gaping and still in need of our attention and collective resources.

Some folks have not forgotten! In fact, a friend and colleague who works in Durham, North Carolina shared with me a story about a computer recycling organization called Kramden Institute in Durham, North Carolina. Organizations like Kramden Institute acknowledge that the Digital Divide still exists and they are still working diligently to close it. In mid-April, they partnered with technical volunteers from Fidelity Investments for a three-day computer recycling "Geek-a-thon" that placed over 100 computers with low-income youth trainees and refurbished over 250 computers for placement in low-income households. The Kramden Institute notes that each computer serves entire households, so the impact of these computer placements significantly impacts families and communities (in addition to recycling old hardware that would most likely have ended up in a landfill somewhere). 

This group (and others like it*) realizes what many don't: households that can't afford a computer may not be able to afford monthly access either. So these computers come packaged with free, open-source stand-alone educational software that does not require an Internet connection to run (a concept many of our youth may not remember!).

Why is all of this still so important? Well, can you imagine growing up in a household without Internet access in this day and age? Can you imagine the stress and discomfort of trying to keep up with classmates and prepare yourself for college without the ability to hone the requisite computer skills that support nearly every academic endeavor required in high school or college? Digital literacy is every bit as critical and foundational to academic and professional success today as the mastery of reading and math. And yet across our culture, there remains a pervasive attitude that computer access is a luxury to be afforded on a recreational level to those who can afford the price of ownership and access.

It's especially important for us as educators to be cognizant of those who struggling their way out of the Digital Divide and to afford those in need our patience and compassion, as well as our efforts to connect them to needed resources. I have a section of links to free digital literacy training online and I will make it a point to find and post links to resources that can help folks find hardware and Internet access. I know that there are many fine organizations like Kramden Institute still fighting the good fight, but they're not getting enough attention. We need to support their work by bringing it to the attention of our colleagues and neighbors, and by asking ourselves, "Can they do it alone? Is there still need in my community that leaves learners unprepared for a basic academic experience? What can we do to join this fight?" And if you need ideas, let me know! I'm here to help!

*FreeGeek in Portland, Oregon has been around awhile as well. They even franchise their model to communities wanting to create their own FreeGeek operation! Check out the FreeGeek tour on YouTube!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Alabama Educational Technology Conference in June!

Mark your calendars and get your registrations in now! The Alabama Educational Technology Conference is less than a month away! The conference will be held June 11-13 at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex in Birmingham. With over 1,000 expected to attend (and very reasonable registration fees, I might add), this conference looks like the place to be in mid-June!

UPDATE: I am presenting at this conference! Look for me midday on June 12 to present on course certification as a model of formative assessment! Please come!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

How Laughing Leads to Learning

Did you know that a little levity in the classroom actually improves learning outcomes? It's TRUE! The American Psychological Association reports that a certain amount of appropriate levity in the teaching and learning process actually improves scores as well as the learner's qualitative perceptions of their learning experiences.
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
(Dr. Maya Angelou, poet and educator)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

BamaBUG 2013 Academic Technology Conference

On May 31st, the BamaBUG (Blackboard Users Group) will host a one-day academic technology conference on the campus of the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. Registration is free and you can find everything you need to know HERE.

Special thanks to Linda Skeete for the heads up!

Monday, May 6, 2013

PBS hosts TED

Don't miss it! Tomorrow night at 10e/9c, TED will debut on broadcast television for a one-hour special dedicated to education. Check it out here and be sure to TUNE IN! John Legend will be hosting and there will be some amazing and inspirational talks given by some of the greatest minds working on the crises plaguing education today!

TED talks are always available at and there are some great theme-based playlists like TED Talks for Teachers on YouTube.

If you haven't yet met TED ... your time has come!

UPDATE: IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, click HERE for the FULL episode!

I loved the whole episode, but especially this talk!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

New Training Program Page

If you check out my new training program page, you'll get a couple of added surprises!

One, the page is a freebie hosted by You can make free Weebly Web pages too! This is the first free site I've used that hosts multiple pages, and it's a great feature, indeed. Weebly Web pages (I just love saying it, I admit it) would make a great tool for organizing course content as well! The production area is feature-rich and the publishing is as easy as blogging updates (I don't miss the days of FTP!), so even the newbiest of newbs can figure this out. We may just hold a Weebly workshop, though, so that we can play together and see what sort of inspiration is sparked!

Another wonderful surprise is the upcoming POWER THROUGH SERIES of seven workshops designed to guide and motivate the e-course developer through the e-course development and certification process. The series is a pilot inspired by the needs of an academic department to get a majority of a degree program online for fall enrollment. We decided to open the opportunity up to other faculty course developers facing similar deadlines (or perhaps a few who might need help catching up to theirs) and anyone else interested in developing an online course!

Welcome, summer!

Friday, April 12, 2013

FREE Micro-MOOC: Academia and the MOOC

Here's another intriguing mini-MOOC that starts Monday! Academia and the MOOC offers this to learners (per the Canvas site):
The New York Times said 2012 was “the year of the MOOC” and EDUCAUSE said MOOCs have “the potential to alter the relationship between learner and instructor and between academe and the wider community.” Many elite universities are offering Massive Open Online Courses, but most colleges and educators are unsure about what MOOCs are and if they are worthwhile. 
Can an "open" course offered at no cost to a very large number of participants who receive no institutional credit be a worthwhile venture for a college? And can a course be effective if participants and course materials are distributed across the Web?
In this class, we will briefly cover the history and development of MOOCs. Participants will engage in discussions about why institutions offer these courses, and the possible benefits to both schools and students. This four-week course will examine MOOCs from four perspectives: as a designer building a course, as an instructor, as a student, and as an institution offering and supporting a course.
And of course—it's FREE! Enroll now and we'll take it together!

FREE Micro-MOOC: Instructional Design for Mobile Learning

I'm back from the Sloan-C Emerging Technologies conference full of ideas, inspiration, resources and big plans! While I catch up and organize, I want to make sure you're aware of the FREE micro-MOOC Instructional Design for Mobile Learning running April 15 through May 12. It comes from the Faculty e-Commons, a "social learning ecosystem for faculty" that warrants a deep exploration by anyone involved in e-learning in a higher ed context.

Friday, April 5, 2013

e-Learning Conferences

I've been busy recuperating from the e-Learning Guild's Learning Solutions 2013 conference in Orlando last month, as well as preparing for the Sloan Consortium's 6th Annual International Symposium for Emerging Technologies for Online Learning next week! While I dread the travel and the days away from home, I know that I always gain tremendously when I attend such conferences. The information and knowledge sharing is great, but the enthusiasm of the crowd and the very high energy of most attendees is always contagious and rejuvenating! I get some of my BEST ideas at conferences, and there's no denying that being in there in person adds to the experience.

I have not yet attended a full conference via online connection and wonder how popular that option has become. Viewing archived webinars is a fabulous way of catching a workshop after the fact, but being relegated to "view only" (for a big question-asker, suggestion-maker like me, especially!) can be limiting. But one can participate live in a conference or Webinar via an Internet connection if the technology used is robust and comprehensive in its ability to let every participant interact with the workshop content.

Have you noticed the link in the resource bars to the right of the blog for e-learning conferences? The choices can be overwhelming, but I can vouch for the Educause and e-Learning Guild conferences as great investments of your time and money! I'm excited to be attending my first Sloan-C conference next week in Las Vegas.

Which do you like best?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Som Sabadell Flash Mob

This was just for fun—because it's just so spectacular!

Global Giveback 2013

One of the best take-aways from the e-Learning Guild's Learning Solutions 2013 conference was the opportunity to join fellow instructional designers around the world in volunteering to design e-courses for Nongovernment Organizations (NGOs) doing good work in developing nations.
LINGOs is a not-for-profit consortium of over 75 international humanitarian relief, development, conservation and social justice organizations that share learning resources and experiences. By providing the latest learning technologies and courses from our partners, LINGOs helps our member nonprofits to increase the skill levels of their employees, and therefore increase the impact of their programs. (LINGOs Web site)
You can connect with LINGOs and the Global Giveback 2013 initiative by joining the Global Giveback group at LinkedIn. It's a great way to build a portfolio, network with colleagues and do good work in developing nations from the relative comfort of your first world environment!

Courses designed for this initiative may be entered in an annual competition which recognizes excellence in volunteer course design from across the NGO sector. The Last Mile Learning Library provides a great peek into the curriculum and an overview of the four certificates currently offered to staff of NGOs across the globe.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Social Media 101 Workshop (Please Register Now! Open to the Public!)

It's not too late to register for our Social Media 101 workshop being held this coming Tuesday, March 26 in the Clyde Foster Multipurpose Room in the College of Business on Alabama A&M University campus. The public is welcome and attendance is FREE! We'll be serving light refreshments and welcome you to bring your own (fully charged) wifi-enabled device (encouraged, but optional)! If you can't make the workshop, you're still welcome to join our Social Media Learning Community by way of this Social Media Reference Guide shared document.

(I like to use these shared document "reference guides" to create a little learning community in association with each of our workshops. It's a great way to get warmed up for the event, as well as stay in touch afterward, sharing success stories, links and ideas for best practice!)

e-Learning Conferences for 2013-14

Just stumbled on a great resource at the e-Learning Tech blog! HERE is a massive list of e-learning conferences coming up in the next year or so. I'll keep a link to this in the link lists to the right, and will try to keep it updated year to year!

Anyone else going to be in Las Vegas next month at the Sloan-C conference?

Creative Commons Announces “School of Open” with Courses to Focus on Digital Openness

This is exciting! Check out Open Culture's announcement of the Creative Commons' "School of Open" launched recently. The online courses will orient and guide course developers through the world of open educational resources available for course building!

Although the first slate of online classes have already started, there is a great list of upcoming topics and a Google group to join if one wants to be part of the discussion and course development. I signed up!

Monday, March 4, 2013

BITS: (FREE) Blackboard Weekly Webinar Series

Have you heard? Blackboard hosts a no-cost weekly webinar series called BITS: Blackboard Innovative Teaching Series. From the site:
BITS is a training initiative to help augment (not replace) your internal training efforts. Harnessing our community of Blackboard users, BITS will share the top strategies and pedagogy for both increasing educator efficiency and improving learning outcomes. BITS is free to Blackboard’s clients and is easy to participate. The program consists of weekly faculty training webinars that are taught by faculty and supported by Blackboard experts.
I'm signing up! There will be a permanent link to the series in our Blackboard resources section on this page!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Moment in Meme

17 Ways i-Pads Will Be Used in Schools in 2013

The article's title caught my eye first—17 Ways i-Pads will be Used in Schools in 2013! And then I noticed that #1 refers to a program in one of our own communities! School administrators in Arab, Alabama are putting i-Pads into the hands of their students and I couldn't be more excited for both the learners AND the instructors! But the list certainly doesn't stop there.

As encouraging as this list is to read, I am still looking for more details about using i-Pads (and similar mobile technologies) for learning assessment purposes. The mobility afforded the instructor/learner team is unprecedented. How can the i-Pad's power and mobility enhance teaching and learning? How can teaching and learning be enhanced with the use of mobile technology? What makes mobile technology so powerful in teaching and learning?

If the teaching and learning process is no longer limited to the time/place of a classroom meeting, learners are more easily able to ask questions when they occur (and receive answers in a more timely manner than waiting for the next class). But what if instructors are not available when learners ask questions? It's important to remember that instructors are not (and shouldn't be) the SOLE source of information and feedback for learners. With a mobile device, learners have access to each other as well as the World Wide Web for resolving questions and problems when instructors are not there to help. The process of this digital collaboration can be easily guided and monitored by creating and maintaining learning communities where learners can safely interact with each other and with learning materials and resources both in the absence and presence of the instructor. This more deeply integrates the teaching and learning process into the life of the learner, with greater probability of comprehension, retention and application of new ideas and information.

The best instructors know that all the knowledge in the world is useless to a learner who finds the learning process inaccessible or irrelevant to their own lives. With the addition of animated graphics, multimedia and video to the instructors' arsenal of tools, students engage more deeply with learning material, and for longer periods of time.

As an example, I remember one of my first encounters with a student on the campus where I now work. I asked him what his professors do with Blackboard that makes him happy and he said that just being able to review video recorded lectures had had a huge impact on his grades (and overall GPA). He said that he worked out in the gym every day with his i-Pod, listening to lectures over and over again as needed. He found that he often got lost during the lecture and appreciated the ability to rewind and replay sections as needed before moving on to increasingly complex discussions of ideas and facts. Without this mobile access, he speculated that he would get lost and remain lost and would eventually "check out" of the course experience by either withdrawing completely or engaging on only a minimal level to get through the course. With the simple addition of recorded lectures, he felt much better able to engage and maintain the engagement over the duration of the course.

Traditionally, the teaching and learning process has been somewhat one-sided except in the most progressive and exceptional of learning environments. The instructor gives, the learner receives. The instructor provides, the learner absorbs. Or doesn't. Who really knows until the final exam is given and grades calculated, and then what happens if someone was lost along the way? Too late.

The interactivity of mobile technology facilitates the exchange of teaching and learning between instructor and learner in a more balanced model. In fact, mobile technology provides the ideal platform for formative assessment (especially those models incorporating self- and peer-assessment practices) in replacement of summative assessment tools like multiple choices quizzes, which most agree are not the most reliable tools for assessing learning outcomes.

Using Blooms Digital Taxonomy as a reference, it's easy to see how the digital tablet can help achieve learning objectives that emphasize context, relevance and application of learning material. When students can demonstrate the application of knowledge rather than mere reflection of data and facts, we know that true learning has occurred. The digital tablet empowers students to demonstrate, list, build, illustrate, design and record the teaching and learning process to such limitless levels that I would personally deem the digital tablet the most promising tool for learning outcome assessment ... ever!

Mobile technologies allow for teaching and learning to happen in context—in the real world. Which is a better measure of learning: passing a text-based timed multiple choice quiz on plant identification, or submitting photographic sampling (taken on a mobile device, of course) of the same plants as they grow in the learner's physical environment (home, park, garden, forest, etc.)?

This is a prime example of how mobile technology can enhance learning assessments. How can learners give us evidence that they have learned? How can learners share learning with each other? Can learners who share physical environments/communities provide each other context for learning?

By allowing the teaching and learning to "go mobile" via tablet and smart phone technology, we are sending the subject matter content INTO the world of the learner, rather than simply wrapping around it from the far reaches of academia. Even without faculty guidance, the realization of relevance and application of subject matter knowledge is much more likely to lead to real-time integration of the ideas learned when they are physically available (via mobile technology) in the context of the learner's "real life" as opposed to the relatively sterile and institutional environment of a physical classroom.

The digital tablet (i-Pad and various Android devices) can be an amazing educational tool with vast benefit to both teacher and learner, but only if both instructors and learners connect on that platform in a virtual environment that meets the needs of all. Luckily, that's getting easier (and more fun) every day.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Copyright and Fair Use: 3 Tips

I really can't disagree with anything written in Copyright and Fair Use: Compliance Guidelines for Faculty. I try to follow this issue somewhat closely and keep up with the discussion. (And will add this link to our resource list on this page.)

But one thing I often find missing in the discussion is the mention of alternatives to using copyrighted material in curricula. Where is the discussion about open source, creative commons and copyleft movements that break down the barriers of proprietary intellectual property and broaden the offering of how those materials can be used?

Creative Commons, open source and copyleft licensed content is virtually EVERYWHERE on the Web! Some social media networks have even embraced the Creative Commons by allowing users to safely browse content in a discrete section of the Web site. Flickr's Creative Commons is rich with photographic content available for free use! This blog has scads of free resources linked in the navigational bars to the right of this narrative post.

The Understanding Copyright vs. the Creative Commons provides a straight-forward overview of the comparison and contrast between copyright and Creative Commons licensing. And a simple Web search will produce hundreds or thousands more great resources for information on this movement.

So the next question is usually: But WHY? Why would anyone want to give away their intellectual property? If we stop to think about the way that technology has changed the way that we learn and consume information, the answer becomes clear. Distribution. How great is an idea if its audience is drastically limited by cost and copyright?

If we are browsing an online bookstore or searching the Web for a good reference book on a given topic and our search results bear both free and costly alternatives, which will we be most prone to choose? Which will we be more prone to share, to pass along and to distribute to others? Credibility and quality being somewhat equal, the free one, right? And with all the free high-quality textbooks out there (and increasing in number every day), fewer and fewer course developers are relying on expensive traditional textbooks when opting for the free, open-license textbook gives learners easier accessibility earlier in the academic semester (since many students must wait for financial aid refunds to even purchase their books). And how likely are learners to carry those books around with them through their daily life? (HINT: Not nearly as likely as they are their smartphone or i-Pad tablet.)

So how does the author/creator make a living by giving away their product? Again, the magic is in distribution. The more widely distributed your work, the more widely recognized your name. The more widely recognized your name, the higher the demand for your presence in academic professional environments, speaking at conferences and leading teams of academics. While it would certainly be easier to stick with the way things have always been and wait for royalty checks from a book publisher, the potential in that paradigm is limited (after all, who would BUY a textbook if they weren't a registered student compelled by a professor's syllabus? And yet millions eagerly absorb no-cost academic content for free from outside of academia!). And quite honestly, the model flawed. We are still fighting copyright battles everyday in court!

In fact, many universities are very anxious about how the e-learning boom will be impacted by the copyright laws currently on the books and those yet to be written in response to the new challenges brought by technology and an increasingly open academic environment on the Web. Like it or not, times are changing and we have to decide where we fit. In fact, it's time for us each to decide. Which team are you on?

Open Access Textbooks provides guidance for authors wanting to apply Creative Commons licensing to their works, as well as several ways for educators and learners to get involved in the open textbook movement.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Best Practice: Top 10 Online Bachelor Programs

Sometimes the research of "best practice" for a given program involves lots of research, data-gathering and analysis. Sometimes you can look at the success of those who are doing what you want to do with the success to which you aspire. In that spirit, we are closely watching these top ten online bachelor programs to see what they are doing and we are not (yet).

This list further highlights my experience that every institution has its own program design, its own objectives, its own priorities and resources for meeting its goals. There is no single solution to making an online degree program successful, but there are lots of ideas, tips and suggestions that can be gleaned from watching these programs in action.

“People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.”
(George Bernard Shaw)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

i-Pad Training Workshop

I am temporarily parking THIS EVALUATION link here for my workshop participants today who don't have access to Google Drive (yet) ... !

Today around fifty learners will gather with i-Pads in hand to learn how to tame the beast and make the most of its use in the classroom. Students are ready for us! They told me themselves!

(UPDATE: We had a great turnout for the workshop but a high demand for more! I am scheduling another for Feb. 26 at the same time and location. You do NOT need to from AAMU to register/attend—we welcome anyone! Please contact me to arrange your parking in advance if you do not work for AAMU or go to school there.

THIS WORKSHOP SCHEDULE is permanently posted in the links to the right of my blog posts. Please feel free to share the link and register for any workshop! And let me know which topics you would like to see offered!)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Best course flyer ever

Oh, how I would have loved to enroll in this one! (Click on the graphic for a closer look!)


PS ... I have been deeply enmeshed in studying ADA/accessibility issues for online education. A full report is in the making!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Google+ in 2013

I'm going to go way out on a limb here and suggest that you make a New Year resolution of MY choosing. Presumptuous of me, I know! But this one is really important, and this time next year, you're going to thank me!

Make this the year (or better yet, make January the month!) that you get (back?) on Google+ and give it (another?) shot. It's true that many came last year and it was a ghost town that left us all wondering where the party was happening. Our posts were met with silence and you could almost hear the echoes. But this year it's different.

Now there is a concerted effort being made to bring folks like us into the existing circles of communication that give Google+ its fire. If you haven't already been brought into a vibrant, active circle of communicators, come and "circle" me and I'll help you get started!

You might be asking if Google+ is really necessary if you're on Facebook already. My answer is: Yes! Let me explain.

Facebook's strongest suit is its connection on personal levels. Many of my colleagues have only one Facebook account and if they "friend" persons who are colleagues, they have to go through a lot of extreme measures to maintain private/professional privacy walls OR they end up blurring the line between the two realms, sometimes irreparably. It can be very uncomfortable. Some have separate accounts for personal and business on Facebook but tend to ignore the professional account and spend less time cultivating it. It seems like fewer people are on Facebook to do business anyway.

Google+ is similar to Facebook in how it connects people for RSS-feed style (if you're really old school!) communication but those communications on Google+ seem to be more about expanding one's horizons, networks and sharing of information than Facebook, which favors the more personal and intimate sharing of photos and personal views between established friends and family. On Facebook, we have more "real world" connections (family and friends we know in person) and on Google+, the balance tips the other way and most of our connections are strangers we've never met who are connected to us by mutual friends and/or shared interests and views. These observations are based on perceptions, but they are perceptions widely shared by many of my friends and colleagues, both online and "real world." There's plenty of Facebook-style banter (memes, politics, jokes, etc.) on G+ but there is ALSO a much stronger support of and access to connectivity of new people and new ideas.

The features between the two are different in some significant ways and you'll have to play with the settings to find your comfort zone. For instance, on Facebook, my posts to public sites can only be seen by someone who is connected to me, but anyone who finds my profile on Google+ can see my posts aggregated from several public sites on my profile page. (EDIT: Fixed that issue through privacy settings! Google is very responsive to the needs of its community of users, and there is plentiful timely support for your issues in tech support circles.) While it can be a little unnerving on the privacy issue, it's a great networking tool for letting folks know where to find you and where you stand on relevant issues.

Perhaps most importantly, the Google+ environment offers connectivity tools that are linked to (the majority of) our students academic email accounts. By learning to use and integrate tools like Google Hangouts (the G+ video Web conferencing tool), we are acquiring critical skills for our own academic technology tool boxes, but also giving learners critical opportunities to build their technology/communication skills in preparation for the professional world that awaits them. The ability to use Google Drive (think Apps, Docs, etc.) and related tools is showing up in job ads and descriptions in the "Minimal requirements" section across myriad fields. How do we prepare ourselves AND our learners for the (r)evolution that Web technology is leading?

By using it. Every chance we get. Will I see you on Google+? I certainly do hope so!

(Here are 25 Google+ Accounts to Check Out and Six Google+ Hangouts About Educational Technology to get you started. And to be sure you see this great list of educational technology hangouts that were RECORDED and available for your use, be sure to check THESE out! In fact, check out archived hangouts on the Google Education on Air site and lose yourself in the recordings! And seriously, circle me! We're all in this together!)


What are your favorite memes? Visit me on Facebook or Google+ and let's connect!

*(a new series!)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Happy New Year!

Anyone who works in a university setting knows that the months of December/January are both the quietest and most frenetic of the year. After final exams are done and the semester wrapped, everyone retreats from campus for a virtually universal holiday of a couple of weeks, only to return to the chaos and high energy of getting a new semester and calendar year up and running.

Here we are also celebrating the launch of Alabama A&M University's first ever entirely online degree program. The undergraduate degree in management is now fully available online, including general education requirements and electives. This was no small feat! I have to hand it to the incredibly dedicated faculty and staff of the University for the monumental effort and passion that went into preparing fifty-four (yes, that's 54!) courses for online certification and delivery. It was a massive group effort and this team of professionals stepped up to the plate with admirable enthusiasm!

Now that we've passed that milestone, we are developing new training/educational workshops and looking for ways that we can enhance the course certification process. I've been spending a LOT of time in Google+ as I'd like to adopt it as a Web conferencing tool for the delivery of online workshops for faculty and staff. If you don't already have a webcam and headset, you should be getting them ready! For 2013 is going to be the "Year of Multimedia" at AAMU!

More soon!